Author Topic: Best housing options for an aging parent?  (Read 3447 times)

James!

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 102
  • Location: PDX
Best housing options for an aging parent?
« on: October 18, 2017, 12:44:37 PM »
WARNING: LONG AND DETAILED POST AHEAD!
Not for the faint of heart. I'm providing as much detail as possible up front, we've thought about this A LOT! So anyway...


Hey Forum! Long time no post for me.

I am looking for some advice/skepticism/constructive criticism and I value the feedback this forum has to offer.

My mom currently lives (alone) in New England and is ready to move to Portland, Oregon where I am. I am here for good with my wife and son and she wants to be here too! We are trying to figure out the best way to have her here and optimize for her needs and priorities.

Mom stats:
67, retired on permanent disability
single (and ready to mingle?)
no emergency debt

Assets
Currently owes $150k on a home worth approximately $370k ($220k equity)
Some sort of combined pension (lifetime payment, amount unknown) and 403b ($350k) *details to be confirmed ASAP*

Income
Currently receives $5500/mo from a long term disability policy which will expire end of 2018

Social Security will be in the range of $2k/mo when it kicks in (after LTD policy ends)
Pension payout unknown


Our top priorities in the move are:
1) Be close to me, within a few miles at most (I live in Northeast Portland)
2) Long term financial stability
3) A space that suits her physical needs (low on physical maintenance, single story)
4) Other stuff I'll remember when you ask questions.



So, I generally think renting is a no go unless I can be convinced otherwise. Rents are just too high anywhere near me and the uncertainty on top makes it a non-starter.

She can't really afford to buy a house here outright, and again, any house in the area would be too expensive even with a substantial downpayment.

The best idea we have as of today is to raise my house about 3' off the foundation (current basement ceiling is 6'6"), and build out the basement to be a custom apartment. I am not looking for advice/concerns/feasibility on this idea. I have close friends who are architects and builders, I will be the general contractor, and have already consulted with a house lifter and have quotes on the project. It is logistically possible and will cost approximately $150-170k total. The idea is that mom funds this up front with her current equity, then she moves in and lives there 100% rent free for the rest of her life, regardless of length. We have contingencies in place for if her needs change, and we are very close and have no issues with the exchange of large sums of money. I know these things are deal breakers for many people but they are not for us.

I'm really just looking for a gutcheck on this idea, or other ideas I haven't considered. This is a huge chunk of money for a "basement" but at the end it will be a custom designed, brand new space, it will allow her to be close to us so we can provide care as she ages, she will be close to my son forever, and it will provide assured financial stability for the rest of her life.

I appreciate your feedback, and please be considerate as you offer advice. I know issues of family and money are complicated and we are not making any of these decisions lightly.

Also a final note, I am financially stable and open to ideas that involve my finances in a reasonable way (i.e. buying a house together or co-signing, things like that)


Cheers!
James

rockstache

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5824
  • Age: 2015
  • Location: Northeast
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 01:38:50 PM »
I think it's a great idea, assuming that your wife adores your mom and has spent enough time with her to get to know what idiosyncrasies she's signing up for.

I care for my grandmother in a very similar setup to what you are describing. I don't think you were asking for this kind of advice, but just in case you hadn't thought of it:

I also would set some boundaries (to protect both sides) while she still has her health (such as: she always calls before coming upstairs, you give her a week's notice for child care needs etc... or whatever boundaries you both think might help ahead of time). Do you have a care plan for when she starts needing more help? By this I mean, who will help her shower (or pay for it), and things of that nature. It might be good to visit some sites on elder care to get an idea of the things to consider - there are many. Good luck!


James!

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 102
  • Location: PDX
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 02:31:06 PM »
I think it's a great idea, assuming that your wife adores your mom and has spent enough time with her to get to know what idiosyncrasies she's signing up for.

I care for my grandmother in a very similar setup to what you are describing. I don't think you were asking for this kind of advice, but just in case you hadn't thought of it:

I also would set some boundaries (to protect both sides) while she still has her health (such as: she always calls before coming upstairs, you give her a week's notice for child care needs etc... or whatever boundaries you both think might help ahead of time). Do you have a care plan for when she starts needing more help? By this I mean, who will help her shower (or pay for it), and things of that nature. It might be good to visit some sites on elder care to get an idea of the things to consider - there are many. Good luck!

I am extremely fortunate in that both my wife and I adore my mom and want to spend as much time with her as possible. She stays with us for ~3 weeks at a time, 3-4 times a year and we always want the visits to be longer.

I was thinking more of logistical advice on housing but everything you're suggesting is very helpful and considerate. For better or for worse, my mom spent her career treating cancer patients and has thought quite a bit about end of life care and aging. So while we do need to formalize some of those things, we have thought and talked about it a bit already. The advice on setting boundaries is spot on.

Cheers!

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5658
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 03:53:19 PM »
Are small condos by you affordable?  I had a friend that did something similar and then the kids got divorced and the house ended up in foreclosure so her $ evaporated.  I see something like that as the danger for your Mom.

dilinger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 457
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 04:07:11 PM »
We have friends that did exactly this (except the parents owned the house, so they raised the house, installed a foundation since it had none, and the aging parents moved down into the basement).  It works really well for them; my friends have free on-site childcare for their daughter 4 days a week.

However, there are stairs.  I don't know if your basement will have stairs, but as parents get older stairs become not only a hassle, but also a potential danger.  If you can create an entrance to the basement that doesn't involve stairs or steep ramps, that will help a lot.

An option that I wanted to do (and then discovered that Seattle has stupid DADU laws, so I nixed the idea) was building a backyard cottage for my parents.  If you have the land space, this allows you to build a well-insulated building for cheaper than trying to retrofit an existing building, and.. no stairs.


mxt0133

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 04:22:29 PM »
Long-term you have to plan for accessibility, stairs, wheelchair accessible bathroom ect.  If you raise your house and she will be in the basement going up and down stairs it might be OK for now but for how long?  Would it make more sense just to expand the first floor with a extra large bedroom and a private bathroom?

Have you looked at looking at a bigger place with a room in the first flow for your mom?  She could help you with the down payment and pay you rent.

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1369
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2017, 04:42:08 PM »
Also check out senior housing & independent living places. My aunt lived for 20 years in a senior apartment until she died at 90; it provided her with lots of social activity, had dining if she wanted it, & cost much less than a regular apt. My MIL moved into an independent living community at age 90 that also had assisted living available, but she needed a 24 hr caregiver by age 98. This place was more expensive but provided more meals & cleaning services; she used the proceeds from selling her house for the entry fee & monthly maintenance. When she died at age 99, 90% of her entry fee was returned to her estate.

Stairs are not an option for aging seniors, especially if one is already disabled. The social aspects of a senior community added quality years to both my relatives, IMO.

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2081
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 05:21:19 PM »
I see potential pitfalls for your mother in tying up so much money in a family place that's not even a true two-family home. If you and your wife divorce, or if your kids get to be impossible teen-agers, or if your mother wants to marry or co-habit with somebody, she may not be able to get her money back out of the place. Family dynamics can change a good deal over the years, and she is only 67. And living together under one roof is a whole different kettle of fish than living close but in separate homes. It isn't the same as on those lovely, long family visits.  Living with you and your wife, and your kids, is likely to be socially isolating for her, too. If she has routine child care responsibilities, that will really cut into her time for making new friends and getting involved in new activities. Also, what if she gets all tied up with you and this basement apartment, and then finds that she really isn't making new friends and contacts...just not hooking in...in the very different culture of Portland compared to New England. There is no escape mechanism for going back...or at least, not an easy one. I really think she should make the move if she wants--but not into your house with you. She needs to find her own place and can then visit with you as much as you all want. You don't say what her disability is, but her own apartment with easy access, and plenty of privacy for her and her friends to come and go...and time on her hands to acclimate herself to Portland, would be the better way to go, I think. Where do other senior Portland folks at her income level live?

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3052
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 05:35:28 PM »
My mother (69) is doing something similar. But we are not putting a lot of money into the house for now. She has sold all her things and I have spent a little money renovating my basement bedroom for her. I will happily do more after we are both comfortable with how this is working out.

We are Asian and used to living with parents so she will be an integrated part of our household instead of having a separate apartment. We are all comfortable with losing some privacy and know there will be challenges ahead living together. The way I look at it is that it is challenging living with my DH. Of course there will be challenges adding another adult into the mix.

Can you do a less costly trial period of 6 months to 1 year before she puts so much money into the house?

Sent from my STH100-1 using Tapatalk


lbmustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2017, 06:49:00 PM »
I agree on the small condo, is it possible to find a 1bed 1bath in a decent area for $200k? (maybe not, if Portland's market is anything like the SoCal area...)

Another possibility is a mother-in-law house in the backyard, if you have the space? You can get one done for significantly less than $150k, and it will afford both you and your mother more privacy, if either if you need it (e.g. if she starts a relationship, etc.).

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4430
  • Location: Avalon
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 02:35:44 AM »
I would second Gizmo in saying that the best thing for your mother is to live somewhere she can create a new community around her.  That may be your house or not.  Your house would mean family close by.  But is there anything else close by, within walking distance, for instance?

If not, finding a retirement community with activities and facilities and the chance to make new friends would be good.  She will miss the friends and community she currently has, but at 67 is young enough to build a new community around her.

It's a good thing you are doing, though.  My mother and aunt both moved in later life to live near me, which brought us all closer and meant that they could both stay in their homes for life rather than going into a residential home.

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2081
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 06:40:39 AM »
Or how about a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment for a year, to be sure she wants to stay in Portland. With the relative flexibility that a one-year lease affords, she can test the waters without getting herself trapped.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5658
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 11:33:03 AM »
I am 63 and have seen friends get married or have a live in at all ages even in their 80's.  You don't want to trap your Mom financially in case it does not work out.

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1698
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 12:17:58 PM »
Does you mother want to live with you?  Speaking as a (healthy) 65 yo I'm 15-20 years from thinking this would be a decent solution for me.  YMMV. 

Tying up her money in your house is also problematic.  What if it doesn't work out?  A friend and her mother sold their houses and bought a larger one for the combined family of 5.  As it turned out there was no house large enough for them to live together happily.  Unfortunately, by then the real estate market had downturned and they were trapped together for years.  What if you get divorced?  Yes, I know you're happy now but people do divorce after being happy until they are not.

I would be happier in a small condo or an apartment in a senior complex. 
     

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 350
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 01:15:56 PM »
My worry is this: for whatever reason, your mom ends up needing or wanting to live elsewhere.  Maybe she has unforeseen levels of disability, which you haven't factored in to the renovation (I know you say that you have factored this in, but there's always the possibility of greater needs than you are spec'd for).  Maybe living with her son actually makes her feel infantilized.  Maybe she doesn't like the neighborhood.  Maybe she makes good friends on the other side of town.  There are lots of possible reasons.  In all of these eventualities, though, her equity is tied up and she can't get it back unless you sell your house. 

Would you be able/willing to rent out the apartment to strangers so that she could use that income stream to fund an apartment elsewhere, if she needs or wants to move? 


James!

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 102
  • Location: PDX
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 04:41:48 PM »
Hi All,

A lot of great replies and things to think about. I'm not going to quote post by post but I'll attempt to cover some of the main questions:

Nothing else near me is remotely affordable, that's why she isn't just buying or renting a place nearby instead. My 3bd/2ba crappy old house was $300k when I bought it 5 years ago and is now valued at $600k and rising.

I can't build a mother in law suite on the property, because I already built one (it's on Airbnb) see my signature. Mom can't move in there because it generates substantial monthly income. This is also why we can't sell this property and buy somewhere else.

My wife and I won't be getting divorced. We are the happiest couple we know and have been through a lot together already, and we're stronger than ever.

My mom knows that she loves the neighborhood (I've been in this house 7 years) and I am confident we can live in the same building. My wife's parents lived in the mother in law suite on the property for a year after my son was born and it was great. We are very fortunate to have very strong relationships with both sets of parents. We facetime my mom daily and my wife regularly chats for hours with her on the phone. Being apart is much harder than living together will be.

The apartment will be ADA compliant with the thought of her needs increasing over time.

My mom LOVES this idea and can't believe I'm willing to do this for her.

We understand the risk of tying up a large portion of her limited assets in this project. In the unlikely scenario that she dies, wants or needs to move etc, I can get the money back to her or her estate. I have discussed with my siblings and they fully support us as well.

Mom has said she would literally rather die than be in a senior living facility.


I think that's all the major points. Thanks for all the input. It is a lot to think about!

Cheers,
James

mxt0133

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2017, 11:01:55 PM »
It seems like everyone involved in the move is on the same page and has been thoroughly thought out.  You are an awesome son, I hope my kids take me in someday.

As for the AirBnD in law suite, holy $#!T.  I would like to see what your house looks like. Now I know where to stay when I go to Portland.  Any discounts for fellow Mustachians?

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3052
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2017, 03:34:47 AM »
I think it is going to work out fantastically for your mother and your family. So glad everyone is on the same page and excited about this. Love that you have thought everything out so carefully.

Sent from my STH100-1 using Tapatalk


MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1522
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2017, 04:42:53 AM »
You’ve thought of everything, everyone is onboard so go for it.

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2081
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2017, 08:57:19 AM »
The OP and his extended family seem to have their act together on this one. I think based on this particular situation, it is worth just going for it. As far as I can see, the red flags have already been considered and addressed by the family's pre-planning and thorough discussions. OK, they have my blessing. : D

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2017, 09:13:11 AM »
I see potential pitfalls for your mother in tying up so much money in a family place that's not even a true two-family home. If you and your wife divorce, or if your kids get to be impossible teen-agers, or if your mother wants to marry or co-habit with somebody, she may not be able to get her money back out of the place. Family dynamics can change a good deal over the years, and she is only 67. And living together under one roof is a whole different kettle of fish than living close but in separate homes. It isn't the same as on those lovely, long family visits.  Living with you and your wife, and your kids, is likely to be socially isolating for her, too. If she has routine child care responsibilities, that will really cut into her time for making new friends and getting involved in new activities. Also, what if she gets all tied up with you and this basement apartment, and then finds that she really isn't making new friends and contacts...just not hooking in...in the very different culture of Portland compared to New England. There is no escape mechanism for going back...or at least, not an easy one. I really think she should make the move if she wants--but not into your house with you. She needs to find her own place and can then visit with you as much as you all want. You don't say what her disability is, but her own apartment with easy access, and plenty of privacy for her and her friends to come and go...and time on her hands to acclimate herself to Portland, would be the better way to go, I think. Where do other senior Portland folks at her income level live?

+1

Too much has to "go right" and too much can "go wrong" with your plan.  I like the idea of a small condo or rental nearby.  If the condo concept doesn't work out, you just flip the condo.  Remaking your house, yikes!

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2081
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2017, 11:44:06 AM »
I see potential pitfalls for your mother in tying up so much money in a family place that's not even a true two-family home. If you and your wife divorce, or if your kids get to be impossible teen-agers, or if your mother wants to marry or co-habit with somebody, she may not be able to get her money back out of the place. Family dynamics can change a good deal over the years, and she is only 67. And living together under one roof is a whole different kettle of fish than living close but in separate homes. It isn't the same as on those lovely, long family visits.  Living with you and your wife, and your kids, is likely to be socially isolating for her, too. If she has routine child care responsibilities, that will really cut into her time for making new friends and getting involved in new activities. Also, what if she gets all tied up with you and this basement apartment, and then finds that she really isn't making new friends and contacts...just not hooking in...in the very different culture of Portland compared to New England. There is no escape mechanism for going back...or at least, not an easy one. I really think she should make the move if she wants--but not into your house with you. She needs to find her own place and can then visit with you as much as you all want. You don't say what her disability is, but her own apartment with easy access, and plenty of privacy for her and her friends to come and go...and time on her hands to acclimate herself to Portland, would be the better way to go, I think. Where do other senior Portland folks at her income level live?

+1

Too much has to "go right" and too much can "go wrong" with your plan.  I like the idea of a small condo or rental nearby.  If the condo concept doesn't work out, you just flip the condo.  Remaking your house, yikes!

As you can see from my post earlier today, it seems as if the OP and the family have anticipated and addressed everybody's concerns. Normally I wouldn't be enthusiastic about their plan, but it does sound like they've all thought and strategized carefully, and this may be--and I hope it is--the blueprint for a happy next 20 years for this bunch.

AMandM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 884
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2017, 01:23:39 PM »
This sounds like a great plan to me.  It's natural for people not on the inside to worry on your behalf about entanglement of finances and lives, but my family is like yours. We can and have talked openly about money, health, disability, need for care, etc.  I actually opened the topic because my father is starting to consider somewhat similar options, though he's 83 so the issues are a little different. 

All the best to you all!

mtn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2017, 01:31:45 PM »
My only advise, no matter what you choose to do:

Make sure that there are no stairs *anywhere* that she'll have to traverse 
Make sure that there is a fully handicap accessible shower. This means zero lip.
Make sure that the doorways and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair.
Make sure that there are separate eating areas, and separate TV viewing areas for you and your mother if you end up in the same house


Pigeon

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2017, 07:16:00 PM »
I wouldn't do this.  I've dealt with three aging parents and a step-parent.  My BIL did this with my MIL.

It's tying up too much of her money in  your house.  It might seem like a good plan now, but at some point, she's going to need more care than you or your wife may want or be able to provide.  If she gets dementia or needs assisted living, then what?  She's not going to have the money for a good assisted living place.  Having to provide a great deal of care for an elderly person is incredibly stressful.

If there was a way to just put in a room and a bath for several thousand dollars and not do all the other mucking around with the house, maybe.  But to blow through her funds like that could really trap you and her in an untenable position.

It is also really, really important for her to build her own life and her own activities.  Staying social with friends of her own has a lot of benefit.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2017, 07:53:19 PM »
However, there are stairs.  I don't know if your basement will have stairs, but as parents get older stairs become not only a hassle, but also a potential danger.  If you can create an entrance to the basement that doesn't involve stairs or steep ramps, that will help a lot.
Yes, the stairs are a real concern.  Could you potentially let your mom move into the current rental ... and build a new rental in the basement?  Or could you look into this for the future?  You're pretty much guaranteed that at some point those stairs will become a problem. 

Could you do something along the lines of a tiny house in the back yard as the new rental?  On TV they build them for $50,000 or so ... considerably less than your lift-the-basement plan. 

So you'll end up with a house with two rental units.  Will this be a marketable item if you decide to sell at some point? 

I see potential pitfalls for your mother in tying up so much money in a family place that's not even a true two-family home. If you and your wife divorce, or if your kids get to be impossible teen-agers, or if your mother wants to marry or co-habit with somebody, she may not be able to get her money back out of the place. Family dynamics can change a good deal over the years, and she is only 67. And living together under one roof is a whole different kettle of fish than living close but in separate homes. It isn't the same as on those lovely, long family visits.  Living with you and your wife, and your kids, is likely to be socially isolating for her, too. If she has routine child care responsibilities, that will really cut into her time for making new friends and getting involved in new activities. Also, what if she gets all tied up with you and this basement apartment, and then finds that she really isn't making new friends and contacts...just not hooking in...in the very different culture of Portland compared to New England. There is no escape mechanism for going back...or at least, not an easy one. I really think she should make the move if she wants--but not into your house with you. She needs to find her own place and can then visit with you as much as you all want. You don't say what her disability is, but her own apartment with easy access, and plenty of privacy for her and her friends to come and go...and time on her hands to acclimate herself to Portland, would be the better way to go, I think. Where do other senior Portland folks at her income level live?
These are real concerns.  If she co-mingles her money with yours, you're committed ... and life is long.  So many things can happen that could lead to her wanting to leave.  OR not that she wants to leave, but she may -- in 10, 20, 30 years -- reach the point that you cannot care for her, and she may need to go into some sort of assisted living ... and her opinions on such things may change over the years.  OR you might need to leave for your job (or a new opportunity), and she may've become engrained in the community and may not want to leave.  Mixing your money seems dangerous to me. 

Nothing else near me is remotely affordable, that's why she isn't just buying or renting a place nearby instead. My 3bd/2ba crappy old house was $300k when I bought it 5 years ago and is now valued at $600k and rising.
Have you looked with a realtor?  Your own house has doubled in value ... you might be pleasantly surprised.


frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 655
Re: Best housing options for an aging parent?
« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2017, 09:23:09 PM »
Have you looked at properties about $150k more than what yours would sell for? Anything available that already has a finished basement?

You still haven't answered the stairs question. I would NOT assume that a 67 year old who is already disabled will be able to do stairs for a long time (I'm 61, in great health and no knee problems, but even I wonder if the stairs to my second story bedroom will be an issue in ten years.

Also - a thought experiment - what if your mom moved into the airbnb unit and just gave you the $170k you would have spent on the basement apartment? And then you used that money to buy a condo or town home for a rental? That way you would still have an asset that could be sold in the event of financial need or divorce. (I know you say your marriage is solid and I hope that is true - I would have said the same thing at that age but after 24 years of marriage, here I am divorced! You cannot predict what may happen.

And - pardon my asking - what is the nature of your mother's disability?